Now that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has warned of a possible Cyber-Pearl Harbor, it’s time to change your passwords. And guess what: a more secure password is actually easier to remember, if you follow a very simple rule.

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St Thompson Techlaw fThe 3d printer promises to become “a photocopier of stuff,” and creative people have already begun to use them for fun as well as practical ends.

But will vending machines that fabricate homemade Legos or Warhammer figurines be the next target of filesharing lawsuits? It’s great to be able to download a Herman Miller Aero chair, but what if you only can afford the trial version, and you’re sitting on it when it crumbles into polymer dust 30 days later?

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Have you ever entered (shudder!) a fake name into a Web site? Now that Interpol has helped arrest 25 alleged Anonymous hackers, you might be interested to learn that behaviors most netizens have practiced since the third grade qualifies as hacking under current US law.

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The Bieber Shaver is only one of the works by the artist-hackers of F.A.T. Lab, which also include a fake Google Street Views car and the QR Stenciler mentioned previously on NMDnet.

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A bunch of anarchist hackers, the Graffiti Research Lab, and an entrepreneur named Mick Ebeling hack together an eye-tracking device that enables a paralyzed former graffiti artist to draw on the parking lot outside his hospital window.

The nerve disease ALS left graffiti artist TEMPT paralyzed from head to toe, forced to communicate blink by blink. In a remarkable talk at TEDActive, entrepreneur Mick Ebeling shares how he and a team of collaborators built an open-source invention that gave the artist — and gives others in his circumstance — the means to make art again.

Anonymous video artists have projected onto the Maine State House the mural by artist Judy Taylor originally installed to commemorate Maine’s labor history. The mural’s removal by Maine’s new governor Paul LePage has provoked outcries of censorship from artists and educators.

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Remember that meme going around a few years back where certain dance beats could hack teen brains? Well, apparently it works for cars.

http://it.slashdot.org/story/11/03/12/0114219/Hacking-a-Car-With-Music?from=rss via Byline

“Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Washington have identified a handful of ways a hacker could break into a car, including attacks over the car’s Bluetooth and cellular network systems, or through malicious software in the diagnostic tools used in automotive repair shops. But their most interesting attack focused on the car stereo. By adding extra code to a digital music file, they were able to turn a song burned to CD into a Trojan horse. When played on the car’s stereo, this song could alter the firmware of the car’s stereo system, giving attackers an entry point to change other components on the car. This type of attack could be spread on file-sharing networks without arousing suspicion, they believe. ‘It’s hard to think of something more innocuous than a song,’ said Stefan Savage, a professor at the University of California.”

So next time your car doesn’t start or insists on turning right instead of left, blame those tunes you downloaded from Limewire.

In seemingly unrelated news, the music industry is suing Limewire for 75 trillion dollars. I imagine if the RIAA got wind of professor Savage’s research, they would up the number into the quadrillions.

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/03/23/1930238/Limewire-Being-Sued-For-75-Trillion?from=rss via Byline

“13 record companies are trying to sue Limewire for $75 Trillion. The NYC judge in the case thinks it is ‘absurd’. Its almost like these media companies are their worst enemy trying to make themselves look ridiculous. From the article: “The record companies, which had demanded damages ranging from $400 billion to $75 trillion, had argued that Section 504(c)(1) of the Copyright Act provided for damages for each instance of infringement where two or more parties were liable. For a popular site like Lime Wire, which had thousands of users and millions of downloads, Wood held that the damage award would be staggering under this interpretation. ‘If plaintiffs were able to pursue a statutory damage theory predicated on the number of direct infringers per work, defendants’ damages could reach into the trillions,’ she wrote. ‘As defendants note, plaintiffs are suggesting an award that is more money than the entire music recording industry has made since Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877.’”

If the founder of console powerhouse Electronic Arts is right when he says “the browser is the platform of the future,” then here are some inventive takes on what that future might look like–from rolling up your favorite Web page Katamari Damacy-style to playing a game entirely in the URL bar.

http://kathack.com/

This is a “bookmarklet” that turns any page into Katamari Damacy. Try clicking the Katamari! link above.

This was the winner of the 2011 Yahoo HackU contest at University of Washington.

How does it work?

Short version: css transforms (for things stuck to the katamari), canvas (drawing the katamari), and z-index (illusion of depth).

This minimalist gem crams an entire game into a single URL.

http://idle.slashdot.org/story/11/03/13/1537230/A-Game-Played-In-the-URL-Bar?from=rss via Byline

“Whether you think it is useful or useless, you can’t ignored the sheer cool geekiness of a game played entirely in the URL bar. From the article: ‘… While getting lost in a three dimensional virtual world amongst increasingly thoughtful plot and character development may be an adequate pastime for some, the only new title the gaming world should be talking about is URL Hunter, an experimental keyboard-character based game played entirely in your browser’s URL bar.’”

Trip breaks it down for us.

http://games.slashdot.org/story/11/03/08/199212/Browsers-mdash-the-Gaming-Platform-of-the-Future?from=rss via Byline

Trip Hawkins, founder of Electronic Arts, spoke at the recent Game Developers Conference about how he expects game platforms to evolve in the future. Hawkins thinks the role of web browsers as a platform will greatly increase as the explosion of mobile device adoption continues. “For all of the big media companies, this phase of disruption is dramatic and happening fast. Where it’s really going to lead is where the function of the browser is going. … The browser has taken over 2 billion PCs — it’s going to be taking over a billion tablets over the next few years, billions of mobile devices. It will end up in my opinion very strong on the television. The browser is the platform of the future.”

Italian net artists Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico scrape 250,000 Facebook profiles to create a social network you can search by looks.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/HxiiTzDPpSQ/ via Byline A new online dating site debuted this week, with ready-made profiles for an unwitting quarter million Facebook users. Facebook’s not amused with the scraping, but the site’s founders say it’s just art intended to expose data usage in the age of social networking…. Moreover, it’s a bit funny hearing Facebook complain about scraping of personal data that is quasi-public….

[Ironically,] Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s founder, made his name at Harvard in 2003 by scraping the names and photos of fellow classmates off school servers to feed a system called FaceMash. With the photos, Zuckerberg created a controversial system that pitted one co-ed against another, by allowing others to vote on which one was better looking.

Invasion of privacy? Maybe for net artists, but evidently not for lawyers trying to pin something on you in court.

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/02/02/1525203/Facebook-Private-Info-Increasingly-Used-In-Court?from=rss “Making the content of your Facebook account private can thwart the social network’s plan to share as much information possible with advertisers, but may not keep out lawyers looking for material that will contradict your statements in a court of law. US lawyers have been trying to gain the permission to access the private parts of social network accounts for a while now, but it seems that only lately they have begun to be successful in their attempts. And this turn of events is another perfectly good reason to think twice about what you post online.”

Job prospects dim? You’re not the only one depressed.

http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=f4a965f158ec7e3398ca9b2a1b604026

Freshmen are reporting record levels of stress in an annual survey involving more than 200,000 students.

You can still profit from your college experience by following these “tips for getting student discounts long after graduation.”

http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=4eaf5fe9306cce3c1f6d0345167c8719 via Byline

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High-tech engineering for those who want more privacy for their privates. Will Victoria’s Secret come out with a Kevlar-lined bra in time for the holidays?

http://idle.slashdot.org/story/10/11/23/150207/Underwear-Invention-Protects-Privacy-At-Airport

Thanks to Jeff Buske you don’t have to be embarrassed while going through the full body scanners at the airport. Buske has invented radiation shielding underwear for the shy traveler. From the article: “Jeff Buske says his invention uses a powdered metal that protects people’s privacy when undergoing medical or security screenings. Buske of Las Vegas, Nev.-Rocky Flats Gear says the underwear’s inserts are thin and conform to the body’s contours, making it difficult to hide anything beneath them. The mix of tungsten and other metals do not set off metal detectors.”

If I were thinking about a new media installation I’d try to get my hands on one of these.

http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2010/11/another-kinect-hack-thats-vastly-more-interesting-than-the-games/

*I may have to start a whole category for these, because they’re coming thick and fast and it’s only been a week. Looks like Microsoft accidentally invented a primo piece of art-installation hardware.

Feed Will Gorman’s MakerLegoBot your Lego CAD drawing and it will print the structure out in Legos. Did I mention Will’s machine is also made of Legos? So once Will figures out how to feed a MakerLegoBot its own blueprint and it starts to make copies of itself, he will have given birth to the first Lego life-form. I for one welcome our new multicolored brick overloads.

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We’ve probably all heard about this already, but it’s certainly apt, so here it is.  Facebook apps (such as Farmville) have been giving (inadvertently or not) non-anonymous personal information to advertisers, a violation of Facebook’s privacy policy.  So basically, you could have chosen the most restrictive privacy settings on Facebook, but if you used Farmville (or if one of your “friends” used Farmville) or one of the other offending apps, your info (your Facebook ID) could have been leaked.  I think it’s kind of vague right now as to exactly what was leaked and why it happened, but any way you slice it, privacy was violated; and that’s another strike for Mr. Zuckerberg, the first being the leaked ims from 2004.  Good thing none of us would be caught dead using as passe a piece of software as Facebook.  Right?  Metaphor:  Facebook is to the year 2010, as AOL was to the year 2001.

William Gibson’s last three novels (starting with Pattern Recognition back in 2003) are essential reading, in my opinion, for anybody who’s into New Media these days.  They’re all set in the modern day, though the characters are decidedly sci-fi– hackers, marketing execs (hackers of a sort), graphic designers, fashion designers, filmmakers, and so on–generally controllers and creators of information.

So, on one level these books (and I sincerely recommend you start with Pattern Recognition) serve as commentary on our jacked-in, post 9/11, etc., society, but on quite another, more immediate–and I think gratifying–level Gibson just uses these themes as an occasion to produce some incredibly focused, almost morbidly precise writing.  The density of his prose can be a little daunting at first, but once you get into the swing of things it’s quite good.  A little vacuous at times, definitely show-offish at others, but on the whole simply delightful.

A bit like wine-tasting perhaps–the kind where you have to spit out the wine after a few seconds.  It’s ridiculously good sometimes–the prose seems almost calibrated to induce a kind of lyrical hypersensitivity in the reader–but on the whole it lacks heart, and leaves one feeling not a little empty.

Reviews:

Av Club

NYTimes

P.S. If you’re into fashion, Gibson’s descriptions are basically candy.  Finely textured, gunmetal-black candy.

Microsoft has patented the process of shutting down your computer, which as a former Windows user I find surprising as everyone knows Microsoft’s real innovation was the Blue Screen of Death. Microsoft may have shown admirable restraint in not patenting the computer crash, but the film industry has shown no such restraint–in fact it is hiring the cybermafia to crash Web sites with offending material.

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/09/01/1456235/Microsoft-Patents-OS-Shutdown?from=rss via Byline An anonymous reader writes “You would think that shutting down software could be fairly simple from an end user’s view. If I ask you to shut it down, would you mind shutting it actually down, please? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that, because you need to ask the user if they really want to shut down and if unsaved documents should be saved. And that warrants a patent that also covers Mac OS X. Next time you shut down Windows, remember how complicated it is for Windows to shut down. Perhaps that is the reason why this procedure can take minutes in some cases.”

Meanwhile the film industry has come up with it’s own unique method for “shutting you down”: hiring cyber hitmen to take down services that happen to have copyrighted material on their Web sites.

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/09/09/0047234/Film-Industry-Hires-Cyber-Hitmen-To-Take-Down-Pirates?from=rss via Byline thelostagency writes “Girish Kumar, managing director of Aiplex Software says his company is being hired by the film industry to attack online pirates. He says if a provider did not do anything to remove the link or content hosted on its site, his company would launch what is known as a denial-of-service (DoS) attack on the offending computer server. From the article: ‘Kumar said that at the moment most of the payment for his company’s services came from the film industry in India. “We are tied up with more than 30 companies in Bollywood. They are the major production houses.” As for Hollywood films, he said they, too, used his services.’”

http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2010/09/augmented-reality-twinkle/


09lucerne Lego Naboo Mini smaOr, how my twelve-year-old got featured in Wired, BoingBoing, and News.com, by purchasing a product and then doing the opposite of what it says on the instructions. It’s a lesson on how to make work that goes viral.

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Have you ever wished you could use Jedi mind powers to speed up your boring professor’s PowerPoint presentation? Or force the words “Happy Birthday Jennifer!” suddenly to appear on his screen? Now you can, thanks to Dutch researcher Niels Teusink, who combined an Arduino board and Metasploit software to demonstrate how to hack a presenter’s computer by hijacking his remote.

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A hacker gets Google’s Linux-based Android operating system–which allows Flash and other non-Apple-approved applications–running on an iPhone.

Could this be the salt that melts the ice of the increasingly closed Apple ecosystem?

(via @zeveisenberg)

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